Dropping off our son, 31 years after meeting at Waterloo

Friday, October 13, 2017

Carl and Jennifer in 1987

Written by Carl Spiess (BASC ’89)

It is coming up on 31 years since Jennifer (BASc '91) and I met at the University of Waterloo. I was in second year Systems Design Engineering and Jennifer was one of two women starting in her Mechanical Engineering class. I’m so happy that we met.<--break-> During that term I was actually wondering if I could handle all the demands of 2nd year engineering. Little did I know how important Waterloo would be to us. Or how we would feel with our son starting UWaterloo Mechanical Engineering; just like his mother.

Dropping Philip off to start his UWaterloo journey brought back a flood of memories.

Many physical things have changed, but much is still the same. We have been excited to see the building of Engineering 5 and how that space encourages the many projects that students can be involved in. We have been pleased to help support UWaterloo upon seeing that progress.

Back in the 1990s Waterloo already had a great reputation, but co-op education was a relatively new program. What I didn’t expect was that my co-op work terms would eventually lead into a 27 year career at ScotiaMcLeod.

Jennifer’s engineering problem solving helps with her career and her several board positions. She also keeps up regularly with several of the girlfriends she made in Engineering and we were very happy to be at her 25th reunion last year with all those friends. Having the reunion dinner held at Fed Hall also reminded us of many fun times we had with friends on campus during school terms.

My connections with UWaterloo alumni extend beyond Reunion events. A fun memory from my university days, was a time when I almost ended up on a windsurfing poster promoting UWaterloo at high schools! The poster eventually ended up with a different student on it - wearing my lifejacket. Nevertheless windsurfing still connects me with UWaterloo alumni today. I compete as an amateur at international events and seem to meet a lot of engineers who like the sport. Standing on a beach in Santa Cruz California 2 years ago I was talking about the waves with a fellow windsurfer and quickly found out that he was a fellow UWaterloo engineering alumnus.

Valentines Day card that Jennifer and Carl recieved from the Faculty of EngineeringJennifer and I were deeply touched a few years ago when we received a valentine’s card from the Waterloo Engineering Alumni team. That was a wonderful addition to many images of the two us.

A very personal connection to Waterloo has been an ongoing warm and periodic connection with outstanding Adjunct Associate Professor Larry Smith. Larry taught both Jennifer and I, Economics 101 – along with thousands of other students. He was also the supervisor on one of my engineering projects and attended a debate our family had when the original NAFTA was being proposed. I was excited when he interviewed me in 2015. His recent TED Talks and book were much more recently discussed in our home. Our conversations about how great professors can change your life may have been influential in our son’s decision to attend UWaterloo.

Jennifer and Carl dropping off their son at the University of Waterloo

As the flood of pictures hit Facebook in September of parents dropping off their kids at university or college, we shared a picture of our son unloading the car at Waterloo. We had so many positive comments (even from friends in the US) about this university and Phillip’s potential there. We think the future looks great, and hope that one day he’ll be attending UWaterloo alumni events.